A new season always means a chance for new players to prove themselves in the Premier League. But what about the men who are already there? Iain Macintosh nominates 10 players, for whom there can be no more excuses.
Last season was the first since 2003-04 in which Wayne Rooney failed to make double figures in terms of league goals. Given that Jose Mourinho has already said that the England captain will not be playing in midfield, he'll most likely be given the chance to make amends up front this season. But Roy Hodgson felt that Rooney was no longer suited to that role for England, so has Mourinho spotted something or has the 30-year-old really begun the inexorable passage to decline?
This isn't the first season that it's been time for Theo Walcott to stand up and prove himself at Arsenal, but it might be the last. Is he a winger? Is he a striker? Can you watch him for more than 20 minutes without getting a rage-induced nosebleed? With Danny Welbeck injured and Olivier Giroud likely to make a delayed start to the season after his Euro 2016 exertions, Walcott could be given a last chance to impress up front. He needs to take it.
Manchester City spent nearly £30 million on Nicolas Otamendi and it would be rather nice if they saw some value for it. The former Valencia defender is 28, which you might think would mean that he's experienced enough to provide the calming influence needed in the absence of Vincent Kompany. Alas, no. Otamendi's special move last season was to come roaring out, slide on his bottom like an itchy dog and whoosh past the ball, leaving a huge gap behind him. No more of that, please.
Something strange happened at Anfield last season: Dejan Lovren finally began to step up and deliver the sort of performances you'd expect for a £20m centre-back. Now he has to sustain that form for an entire campaign. Martin Skrtel and kolo Toure have left, while Mamadou Sakho is on the naughty step and Ragnar Klavan and Joel Matip are new to the Premier League. If Liverpool are to kick on this season, they'll need Lovren to be a leader and at his best.
With the exception of Willian, every single established Chelsea player has something to prove this season. It was staggering that a title-winning team could deteriorate so quickly and the club cannot afford for it to happen again. That means that Eden Hazard needs to show up, that Diego Costa needs to wake from his slumber, that Cesc Fabregas needs to offer more precision and that Nemanja Matic has to impose himself. And that's just for starters.
When Mark Hughes took over at Stoke City in 2013, he made a concerted effort to turn the beast into a beauty. It's worked but, if they are to improve on three successive ninth-place finishes, they need their key players to step up and none more so than Xherdan Shaqiri. He was a hugely exciting signing, but scored just three goals and added six assists in a mixed first season. He's very good -- witness his Euro 2016 goal of the tournament contender vs. Poland -- but it's time he proved it more consistently.
The much maligned Roberto Martinez did at least leave Everton with three gems. Under his tenure, Ross Barkley, John Stones and Romelu Lukaku all rose to become £40-£50m players. But none of them looked that valuable last season, particularly after Christmas when Martinez's empire began to crumble. It's still unclear how many of the trio will remain at Goodison Park but, wherever they go, you'd expect much better from all of them.
Connor Wickham was a hot property when he spearheaded England's Under-17 European Championship victory in 2010, but he's never quite fulfilled his potential. He scored just 11 league goals in 79 games for Sunderland and only five last season, his first term with Crystal Palace. Alan Pardew has shed three strikers in Emmanuel Adebayor, Marouane Chamakh and Dwight Gayle, but hasn't yet found a replacement. There's a lot of pressure on Wickham to score more goals.
Jack Rodwell was also highly-rated once but that seems like a long, long time ago now. Perhaps the arrival of David Moyes at Sunderland will help put the 25-year-old back on track. Moyes gave Rodwell his chance at Everton and always felt that he'd develop into an international centre-back rather than a defensive midfielder. It might be worth a try; Rodwell was so lethargic last season that, if he doesn't crack it this season, he might not get another chance in 2017-18.
No-one wants to listen to another season of Saido Berahino speculation, least of all Saido Berahino himself. He'll be 23 on Aug. 4 and can't afford to waste any more time. He's a player of obvious quality, who should be entering the peak years of his career, scoring freely and pushing for a place in Sam Allardyce's England squad. Whether he moves or not, he should not be wasting his time on the sidelines anymore. Good players should be playing.